Archive for December, 2018

Daily Confession/Westminster is Open Source

December 31, 2018

Greetings in the Lord!

Since a year is 52 weeks plus an extra day, Dec 31 is always an off-day for Daily Confession, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to make a public service announcement, or a peek behind the scenes for anyone who is interested in the technical details (for anyone who just wants a daily devotional today, there’s still the year’s last reading from Dr Pipa’s reading schedule for Daily Westminster)

Originally (back in 2008) this capability was hacked together with a pile of Perl scripts that parsed the text and scripture links of the Westminster and Three Forms artifacts into a  years’ worth of posts (two years, if you count Daily Westminster separately).  Then more Perl was written to rotate the posts into an annual schedule (because each year starts on a different day of the week). Finally, more Perl was written to pre-post that year’s worth of content to the two blogs, and then I could just sit back and let wordpress.com do all the work: automatically disseminating all the posts on their pre-set publish dates. The amount of work going forward was about an hour a year to create a new rotation schedule, and upload all of the new year’s posts, and 5 minutes here or there as typos were discovered and reported to me (thanks to you all, I haven’t heard about a typo for many years now!)

Well after a couple years of that, WordPress changed a policy that limited the number of pre-posts. So the Perl was tweaked a bit to upload just a month at a time, which is what I’ve been doing ever since. After that got streamlined, it was down to about 5min per month, and still about an hour to prepare for each new year. As some might recall, there were not a few months where I forgot to upload posts! I thank those of you who emailed to graciously remind me to get on the ball. A system of calendar reminders for myself seems to have eliminated that problem.

In 2018, when I updated the home computers from Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, I found I could no longer get Perl set up with the modules that enabled connecting to WordPress to upload the posts. Since I’ve been transitioning to Python lately, I rewrote the monthly uploading script in Python. It didn’t take long, because I was still able to use the same repository of content. The Python rewrite improved things so the annual hour of data preparation is no longer necessary, and I’m down to just the 5min/month (and the majority of that is trying to remember my password, because I now use it so rarely!)

In addition to Python, 2018 has seen me start to use GitHub for my personal coding projects, which brings me to the real purpose of this post.

The capability (new Python as well as all the old Perl) and data (all 364+365 pre-formatted posts) to upload Daily Confession/Westminster posts month by month, is now hosted as an open source project on GitHub. One thing that this means is that, should the Lord see fit for me to get run over by a bus, other techies would have all they need to keep the service going. Thankfully, I am ‘young’ and healthy, so I look forward to many years of continuing to run this myself.

Another thing this means though, is that if anybody else wants to set up a ‘rival’ service, they are free to do so, and I would welcome it (and have once before!) Perhaps one or more churches would like to publish these daily readings from their own church website. Or perhaps somebody feels like registering a domain rather than using free blogs at wordpress.com. Perhaps somebody has ideas for improving the code. Hosting the project on GitHub facilitates all of these possibilities.

Normally, Daily Confession/Westminster has comments disabled (I only aim to provide readings, there are plenty of other venues out there for discussion), but this post will have comments on, in case anybody wants to easily contact me to discuss technical possibilities.

Thanks for all your years of faithful readership! I pray that these best efforts of our fathers in the faith will help in your study of God’s word.

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Täglich bekennen is back!

December 31, 2018

Way back in 2009 and 2010 I was delighted to learn that two Reformed brothers from Germany (Matthias and Sebastian) picked up on the Daily Confession concept and started a parallel website with confessional readings in German, called Täglich bekennen! Their site was managed manually (copy/pasting daily posts in batches), which is a lot of work, and has been dormant for a while.

But I finally came to my senses and realized that since they provided complete content (including I believe their own new translation of the Kindercatechismus), already divided into 52 weeks per artifact, labeled, dated and everything, I could scrape that content off the website and add it to my automatic posting system.

They graciously and promptly responded to my request to be authorized to post to TaeglichBekennen.wordpress.com, and we are now set up so that daily posts in German will available starting Jan 1 2019 and onward indefinitely.

Yay!

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 52

December 30, 2018

52. Lord’s Day

Q. 127. Which is the sixth petition?
A. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; [a] and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, [b] the world, [c] and our own flesh, [d] cease not to assault us, do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, [e] but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory. [f]

Q. 128. How dost thou conclude thy prayer?
A. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever”; that is, all these we ask of thee, because thou, being our King and almighty, art willing and able to give us all good; [a] and all this we pray for, that thereby not we, but thy holy name, may be glorified for ever. [b]

Q. 129. What does the word “Amen” signify?
A. “Amen” signifies, it shall truly and certainly be: for my prayer is more assuredly heard of God, than I feel in my heart that I desire these things of him. [a]

Westminster Confession, Week 52

December 29, 2018

Chapter 33: Of the Last Judgment

1: God has appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ,[572] to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father.[573] In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,[574] but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.[575]

2: The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord; but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.[576]

3: As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity:[577] so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, Amen.[578]

Canons of Dordt, Week 52

December 28, 2018

Conclusion: Rejection of False Accusations

And so this is the clear, simple, and straightforward explanation of the orthodox teaching on the five articles in dispute in the Netherlands, as well as the rejection of the errors by which the Dutch churches have for some time been disturbed. This explanation and rejection the Synod declares to be derived from God’s Word and in agreement with the confessions of the Reformed churches. Hence it clearly appears that those of whom one could hardly expect it have shown no truth, equity, and charity at all in wishing to make the public believe:

  • that the teaching of the Reformed churches on predestination and on the points associated with it by its very nature and tendency draws the minds of people away from all godliness and religion, is an opiate of the flesh and the devil, and is a stronghold of Satan where he lies in wait for all people, wounds most of them, and fatally pierces many of them with the arrows of both despair and self-assurance;
  • that this teaching makes God the author of sin, unjust, a tyrant, and a hypocrite; and is nothing but a refurbished Stoicism, Manicheism, Libertinism, and Mohammedanism;
  • that this teaching makes people carnally self-assured, since it persuades them that nothing endangers the salvation of the chosen, no matter how they live, so that they may commit the most outrageous crimes with self-assurance; and that on the other hand nothing is of use to the reprobate for salvation even if they have truly performed all the works of the saints;
  • that this teaching means that God predestined and created, by the bare and unqualified choice of his will, without the least regard or consideration of any sin, the greatest part of the world to eternal condemnation; that in the same manner in which election is the source and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief and ungodliness; that many infant children of believers are snatched in their innocence from their mothers’ breasts and cruelly cast into hell so that neither the blood of Christ nor their baptism nor the prayers of the church at their baptism can be of any use to them; and very many other slanderous accusations of this kind which the Reformed churches not only disavow but even denounce with their whole heart.

Therefore this Synod of Dort in the name of the Lord pleads with all who devoutly call on the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to form their judgment about the faith of the Reformed churches, not on the basis of false accusations gathered from here or there, or even on the basis of the personal statements of a number of ancient and modern authorities — statements which are also often either quoted out of context or misquoted and twisted to convey a different meaning — but on the basis of the churches’ own official confessions and of the present explanation of the orthodox teaching which has been endorsed by the unanimous consent of the members of the whole Synod, one and all.

Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.

Finally, this Synod urges all fellow ministers in the gospel of Christ to deal with this teaching in a godly and reverent manner, in the academic institutions as well as in the churches; to do so, both in their speaking and writing, with a view to the glory of God’s name, holiness of life, and the comfort of anxious souls; to think and also speak with Scripture according to the analogy of faith; and, finally, to refrain from all those ways of speaking which go beyond the bounds set for us by the genuine sense of the Holy Scriptures and which could give impertinent sophists a just occasion to scoff at the teaching of the Reformed churches or even to bring false accusations against it.

May God’s Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of his Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen

Larger Catechism, Week 52

December 27, 2018

Q. 195. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,[1273]) acknowledging, that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations;[1274] that Satan,[1275] the world,[1276] and the flesh, are ready powerfully to draw us aside, and ensnare us;[1277] and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption,[1278] weakness, and want of watchfulness,[1279] are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations,[1280] but also of ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them;[1281] and worthy to be left under the power of them:[1282] we pray, that God would so overrule the world and all in it,[1283] subdue the flesh,[1284] and restrain Satan,[1285] order all things,[1286] bestow and bless all means of grace,[1287] and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we and all his people may by his providence be kept from being tempted to sin;[1288] or, if tempted, that by his Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation;[1289] or when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it,[1290] and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof:[1291] that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected,[1292] Satan trodden under our feet,[1293] and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, forever.[1294]

Q. 196. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, (which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.[1295]) teacheth us to enforce our petitions with arguments,[1296] which are to be taken, not from any worthiness in ourselves, or in any other creature, but from God;[1297] and with our prayers to join praises,[1298] ascribing to God alone eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency;[1299] in regard whereof, as he is able and willing to help us,[1300] so we by faith are emboldened to plead with him that he would,[1301] and quietly to rely upon him, that he will fulfil our requests.[1302] And, to testify this our desire and assurance, we say, Amen.[1303]

Belgic Confession, Week 26

December 26, 2018

Article 37: The Last Judgment

Finally we believe, according to God’s Word, that when the time appointed by the Lord is come (which is unknown to all creatures) and the number of the elect is complete, our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, bodily and visibly, as he ascended, with great glory and majesty, to declare himself the judge of the living and the dead. He will burn this old world, in fire and flame, in order to cleanse it. Then all human creatures will appear in person before the great judge– men, women, and children, who have lived from the beginning until the end of the world. They will be summoned there by the voice of the archangel and by the sound of the divine trumpet.[79] For all those who died before that time will be raised from the earth, their spirits being joined and united with their own bodies in which they lived. And as for those who are still alive, they will not die like the others but will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye” from “corruptible to incorruptible.”[80] Then “the books” (that is, the consciences) will be opened, and the dead will be judged according to the things they did in the world,[81] whether good or evil. Indeed, all people will give account of all the idle words they have spoken,[82] which the world regards as only playing games. And then the secrets and hypocrisies of men will be publicly uncovered in the sight of all. Therefore, with good reason the thought of this judgment is horrible and dreadful to wicked and evil people. But it is very pleasant and a great comfort to the righteous and elect, since their total redemption will then be accomplished. They will then receive the fruits of their labor and of the trouble they have suffered; their innocence will be openly recognized by all; and they will see the terrible vengeance that God will bring on the evil ones who tyrannized, oppressed, and tormented them in this world. The evil ones will be convicted by the witness of their own consciences, and shall be made immortal– but only to be tormented in the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.[83] In contrast, the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honor. The Son of God will “confess their names”[84] before God his Father and the holy and elect angels; all tears will be “wiped from their eyes”;[85] and their cause– at present condemned as heretical and evil by many judges and civil officers– will be acknowledged as the “cause of the Son of God.” And as a gracious reward the Lord will make them possess a glory such as the heart of man could never imagine. So we look forward to that great day with longing in order to enjoy fully the promises of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Shorter Catechism, Week 52

December 25, 2018

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin,[223] or support and deliver us when we are tempted.[224]

Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only,[225] and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him;[226] and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.[227]

Children’s Catechism, Week 52

December 24, 2018

Q. 144. What will become of the righteous?
A. They shall be taken to heaven.

Q. 145. What is heaven?
A. A glorious and happy place, where the righteous shall be forever with the Lord.

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 51

December 23, 2018

51. Lord’s Day

Q. 126. Which is the fifth petition?
A. “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; [a] even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbour. [b]